YENAGOA, Nigeria (Reuters) - Gunmen killed a Nigerian soldier and kidnapped a Lebanese construction worker on Tuesday in a shootout in the southern oil-producing Niger Delta, police said.
Pipeline attacks and violence have been on the rise in the swampland since authorities issued an arrest warrant in January for a former militant leader on corruption charges.
“One Lebanese, Ramzi Bau Hadir, aged 53 years, was kidnapped by the armed bandits,” said Butswat Asinim, a police spokesman in Bayselsa state. A resident said a second foreigner had been kidnapped but Asinim did not confirm this.
“It was a movie scene. The soldiers were shooting and the armed men were shooting,” a driver who gave his name as Monday told local newspaper Leadership. “We later saw signs of blood everywhere.”
Attacks have been on the rise for weeks in the Delta, which
provides most of Nigeria’s oil and gas wealth. Militant groups
have long demanded a greater share of the mineral wealth and an
end to oil pollution in the region.
Last month gunmen blew up an oil pipeline belonging to Italy’s ENI, killing three workers who had been repairing the pipe, according to officials.
In February militants staged a sophisticated underwater attack, probably using divers, on a Shell pipeline, shutting down the 250,000 barrel-a-day Forcados export terminal.
President Muhammadu Buhari, elected a year ago, has extended a multi-million dollar amnesty signed with the militants in2009, but he has upset them by ending generous pipeline protection contracts.
Reporting by Tife Owolabi; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Richard Balmforth